Thursday, August 22, 2013

970. That Time My Wig Fell Off

My hair had never been what you would call “luxurious.”  Pantene shampoo marketers had never phoned and begged me to be in one of their commercials.  Even my beloved gayer-than-Liberace hairdresser of 20 years had frequently oh-so-subtlely hinted, “Hon, let’s consider going ultra-short!” 

But then I'd gaze in the mirror at my lackluster blond hair, and I'd see Alice in Wonderland.  Yes, a stringier, more split-endier version of my childhood idol, but Alice nonetheless. 

“I like it long,” I would say to Robert-the-hair-guru, and he would give me a weak Mona Lisa smile and reluctantly set down the scissors. 
So it should come as somewhat of a surprise that women (yes, that is plural) literally stopped me on the street one day to compliment me on my gorgeous hair.    

I did not have the heart to tell them it was a special hair clip made of (I hoped) horse hair but possibly (I tried not to think about it too much) even human hair.  Human hair that some altruistic soul had chopped off to donate to cancer victims who had lost their hair to chemotherapy and radiation, not exactly meant for narcissistic stringy-haired individuals like me who just wanted to look like Heidi Klum or Claudia Schiffer for once in her life. 
I had been shopping at Nordstrom with my mom (a rarity, since I favored Target and she preferred to not shop at all since “I will always see something I want to buy and then have to buy it”) when we innocently wandered into the hair accessories department.    

Sparkly barrettes and satin headbands had beckoned to us, like an all-you-can-eat buffet of Godiva chocolate at a Weight Watchers' meeting, when I saw it:  a fluffy blond hair clip that pretty much doubles the volume of your hair.  Not only that, but it was the EXACT color of my own hair, a golden blond with a touch of mousiness for reality’s sake.  (Now you can see these hair thingies at kiosks in malls everywhere, but this was 15 years ago, so they were a complete novelty at the time.) 
I tried it on, pulling the front sections of my own hair back into this blond wonder.  My new (fake) hair cascaded in a way that can only be described as “super model.”  I instantly looked 10 years younger, 10 pounds lighter, and 10 IQ points dumber.  I had to have it. 

My mom, who had been posing with brunette poufy pony-tail holders and I-Dream-of-Jeannie fake braids, glanced at me, grabbed her chest, and let out a loud gasp.  When she regained her composure, she began to ramble:     
“Oh, MOV, that wig is stunning!  You have to buy it.  Wow!  You look amazing.  How much is it?  You know what, I’ll buy it for you.  We used to call them ‘falls’ back in my day, but these new ones are such better quality.  Oh, MOV, look in the mirror.” 

She was right, there was no way we were walking out of Nordstrom without it.  My mom pulled out her Mastercard and chatted cheerfully with the salesgirl. 
“You must sell a lot of these, right?  What a great product.  I might have to come back and buy one for myself, too.” 

The salesgirl nodded encouragingly, and then turned to me and asked, “Do you want to wear it home right now?” 
Here is where I panicked.  Wear it?  Wear a wig?  I began to have second thoughts just as my mom was signing the credit card slip.  

“No, uh, it is for special occasions.  Can I just have a bag, please?” 
“And lots of tissue paper,” interjected my mom with a wink.  “And maybe a nice shiny box with your pretty Nordstrom logo.”  My mom liked the entire experience of high-end department stores, which is why she was wise to stay at home with her credit cards tucked safely away and try to get some gardening done instead.    

As we walked out of the silver mecca that is Nordstrom, I gave my mom a big hug.  The fake hair had been expensive, a real splurge.  It is not something I would normally have bought for myself. 
“When are you going to wear it?” she asked, still giddy from buying a frivolous present for her daughter. 

“Maybe out to dinner with The Husband?” I volunteered.  “That would be fun.” 
The opportunity arose faster than I thought.  A mere week later, The Husband told me his work was hosting a Christmas luncheon at a local restaurant and spouses were invited.  I put on my cutest black dress with a short red jacket and a colorful silk scarf tied around my neck like I was French, or an American pretending to be French.  Then, as the finishing touch, I put on the new blond hair clip, fastening it securely high on the top of my head for maximum impact. 

When I walked out of the bathroom from getting ready, The Husband actually swooned.  There was no other word for it. 
“MOV, you look so beautiful!  Did you just get your hair done today?  Did you buy those hair roller things that plug in?  WOW!  How did you get your hair to do that?  You should wear your hair like that every day.”

I basked in the glory of the undeserved attention, and momentarily considered telling him it was a just a fluffy hair clip.  A fake.  But then I reconsidered, because I did not want him to tease me about it, even in jest, nor accidentally slip and tell one of his co-workers.  Instead, I played it cool. 
“You like my hair?” I whispered, channeling Marilyn Monroe.  “Well, I tried a new conditioner.” 

“Whatever conditioner it was, we are buying stock in it.  Okay, let’s get going.”  He had a grin plastered to his face as if he had just found a $100 bill lying on the sidewalk. 
When we got to the restaurant and valet-parked the car, three random women standing on the curb waiting for their cars said, “Your hair is soooooooooooo pretty!”  They looked at me with pure admiration and perhaps a slight touch of envy. 

We walked into the private room and most of The Husband’s co-workers were already there.  They greeted me enthusiastically and smiled warmly at me and my hair. 
I ordered a club sandwich and a glass of Pinot Grigio (everyone else was ordering wine or liquor, and since it was the holiday season, I thought, Why not?).  I was suddenly very self-conscious and concerned that I might have a stray piece of bacon in my teeth.  Honestly, I shouldn’t have worried about that at all.  I should have been thinking about my hair.  Throughout lunch, The Husband, sitting right next to me and with his hand on my back, had been absent-mindedly petting my long flowing locks, like I was some exotic creature from the petting zoo.  Maybe a rare pink sheep. 

Now, The Husband is not one to pet my hair.  He never did that before, and I can safely say he has never done it since.  But in that one particular moment, he could not stop stroking my magnificent Brigitte Bardot hair. 
I started obsessing about the bacon potentially lodged in my teeth.  Lettuce could be stuck in there as well, and this combination (in my Pinot Grigio-addled brain) convinced me that The Husband could end up getting fired for being married to someone like me.  Someone who was … messy and a bad eater. 

I excused  myself to the ladies’ room and was shocked to see that not only had my new hair clip not stayed on the top of my head like it was supposed to, but the clippy portion was somehow defective and had loosened to the point that it was half-way down my back.  I was like some mutant “Growing Hair Barbie” experiment gone grossly awry.
I tried to unclip it and re-clip it, but then a few of the plastic teeth of the clips broke off in my fingers as I clumsily attempted to adjust it.  The bathroom was the kind that only one person can fit in and lock the door, so someone (The Husband’s co-worker?  his boss?  the owner of the restaurant?) started knocking. 

“Just a minute!” I screeched.    
I felt big tears well up in my eyes, but I knew a smeary mascara look would only make things worse.  As a last resort, I hastily untied my scarf from around my neck and somehow managed to loop it back around the hair piece to hold everything in place.  I looked very different than when I had gone into the ladies’ room originally. 

When I returned to the table, I leaned down and whispered to The Husband, “The crab cakes made me sick.  We have to leave right now.” 
Stunned, he volleyed back, “You had a club sandwich.” 

“We.  Have.  To.  Leave.”  I smiled through gritted teeth. 

The Husband turned to his co-workers and announced apologetically, “Sorry, guys, you know MOV is a flight attendant and she just got paged for a flight.  We have to go.  So sorry.” 
Several people stood up at the table to shake hands with me, and then The Husband’s boss leaned in for a hug.

I cringed inside.  Please don’t hug me, dear God, you’re going to pull my hair, no, no hugs! 

I decided to kiss him instead.  A kiss would throw him off guard and maybe make him forget all about the hug. 
I leaned in for a peck on his cheek, and he pulled away so as not to be kissed by me, but we inadvertently found ourselves kissing on the lips. 

The kiss was approximately half a second, maybe less, but we were both mortified.  His wife, still seated, took another swig of her wine, then glared at me and my silk scarf tied around my head.   
The Husband and I walked out to the car in icy silence.  He finally sneered, “What the hell was THAT all about?” right as the valet was bringing our car around.  He handed the valet a $5 bill, then got in the driver’s seat, leaving me to get in on my side by myself.    

Just when I thought things could not possibly get any worse, the valet helped me into my seat and shut the door.  On my hair. 
We started to drive away and the valet frantically chased after us, with my hair piece in his hand.  The Husband stopped the car, and rolled down the passenger window. 

“Miss, miss, you dropped this!” the valet said apologetically as he held out the fake hair. 
“No, that’s not mine,” I said without even looking at him, and then we drove away, me stringy-haired as ever.